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Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels


Shanghai, mixed architecture

Authors: Isabel Sun Chao, Claire Chao –

Publisher: PLUM BROOK, LLC –

Genre: Biography –

Overall rating: 5/5 –

Writing: 5/5 –

Duration: 7:59h (medium) –

Narrators: Rachel Yong, Isabel Sun Chao, Claire Chao –

Narrator/performance: 5/5 –

Impressions: 5/5 –

Performance errors: 0/5 –

Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –

Audience: General


After a string of easy reads which did not give me much satisfaction, I felt into a kind of literary stupor. This book was the antidote and I it was perfect for my peculiar condition.

The first thing which must be said about this book is that it is the result of an enormous amount of work. Yet, it is not overworked, far from it. It is steeped in refined aesthetics and acquired taste for temperance. If that were not obvious from the words on the pages, one can definitely hear what a truly serious commitment it was from the final chapter of the audiobook, read by Isabel Sun Chao.

Secondly, the book is an utterly beautiful piece of work made out of love and respect for a certain number of people and their qualities. It also shows how history and ancestry get mixed together. The stories described here concentrate on the history of the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China, covering also the Cultural Revolution. Yet even though the Authors described important historical facts and the story of their own family, they were able to avoid pathos, strong emotion and clichés. The image created here is fresh, nostalgic and universal, probably understandable for the participants of most nations and cultures. As far as I can tell, the book can be used as a kind of historical source while it is in itself the result of a not insignificant amount of research. What a feat, for a bestselling book given so much praise and so many awards, to also possess a degree of academic value.

Thirdly, this book is a genuine work of literary art and a fantastic audiobook production. The sound of language used in this rendition haunted me for days and I longed to get back to it days after finishing it. The book just makes one feel good at heart and content with the world.

The audiobook comes with the option to download free pdf material from the book’s website.

Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels audiobook cover

The book’s cover promises much and the book delivers exactly what the cover promises – a story of women, beauty, refinement and tradition in turbulent, transient times. It is also a little on the rich side – and so is the book.

Cover Photo by Jorick Jing on Unsplash